Schools will lift if they harness their learners' entrepreneurial power

All children are born entrepreneurs. They are curious, experimental, innovative and talented. They enjoy taking charge and showing off their skills and competencies. Yet, we force them to be passive onlookers at school assemblies and other school events. Even when we receive guests at the school, the learners often just interact with them from a distance. Often the teachers are bogged down with all the planning details while the bored learners direct their pent up energies to amuse themselves in ways which are not appreciated by the adult folk around them. The question begs: why are we not allowing the 'Steve Jobs' to help us with the organizational planning so that we can reserve our energies for the classroom?


Jacques Schouw, the sound and lighting engineer of Muizenberg High school with Mel September, Hospitality educator

I can see the possibility of an entrepreneurial- driven Programme embedded in a school's infrastructural curriculum framework because there are schools that serve as models.


Take for example, Jacques Schouw, a grade ten learner at Muizenberg High School. Jacques is a quiet young man who was the sound and lighting engineer at our education district's diploma ceremony for 50 foundation phase teachers. And, the catering for the event was done by the hospitality students of the school as well. Jacques told me that he and his team provide the sound and lighting for their school events and he intends pursuing a career in this field when he has completed his formal schooling. The sound and lighting was professional and the catering would have pleased even the food critic, Anton Ego, in Ratatouille!

Hospitality learners provided the catering. In the background: Leonie Jacobson, Deputy principal, Juan Benjamin, CIrcuit Team Manager, Mel September, Head of Department


All the learner service providers were professional and relaxed when they engaged us. They are obviously used to the decorum required at such formal events and accustomed to impromptu interviews as well. These are high level soft skills which one usually acquires in regular exposure to real life situations. Even adults become tongue-tied when they are caught unawares in dialogues that require more than the usual small talk variety. Yet, here we had these 16 -17 year olds holding their own.


This is what I am talking about. We must create spaces where learners can use their skills in a real life situation. They have to be given opportunities to transition from the world of simulation to what happens in the real world. Now, if one takes such active learner participation in school organization to scale, one can see the mutual benefits for all the role players at the school. Learners will become active participants in the organizational planning of the school and teachers will be relieved of certain responsibilities that have been outsourced to the learners.


Obviously such an entrepreneurial infrastructural framework requires a shift in mindset that includes fiscourse about power relations and unity in the vision for the school. Such a transformational, model cannot be implemented successfully if all the stakeholders do not embrace and actively help to embed an entrepreneurial - based pillar as part of the curriculum design of the school.


The exponential power of such strategic shifts at schools that have not considered building on the entrepreneurial wealth of their learners, will amaze even those diehard critics who thrive on dismissing all new thinking and different ways of doing things. Take the plunge. Start the process and see the rewards.

The Head of Muizenberg High School, Dave Shaw, proudly affirming his entrepreneurial learners who managed the event on behalf of MSED .




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